A Brief Overview of Religion in the Shattered Worlds
There are no atheists in the Shattered Worlds. The power of the multitude of deities is made manifest through the miracles enacted by those immersed in the mysteries of their faith.
There are 22 churches in Palaethos’s Ward 7-5 alone... a testament to the power and influence of faith upon the denizens of the city. Understanding how divinity works in the Many Worlds is vital to understanding the culture of the city.
Not all deities exalted by a religion impart reality altering power upon their disciples. There are some religions that are based purely upon a moral and ethical mandate defined by scripture.
But for disciples of the True Faiths – pantheons of ancient gods enshrined in sacred texts that have stood for millennia – the deep mysteries unlock a profound connection to the deity. As such they become conduits of their will, avatars of their might and glory upon the Many Worlds.
The Gods represent the archetypal forms of the values of their worshipers. In this regard, they are very much like the Arcana in that they represent the DNA of civilization. The virtues and fears of a culture will be manifested through the deities they exalt, and through that exaltation, the deity gains dominion over their sphere of influence.
The Gods dwell deep in the archetypal realms of spirit and are intimately connected to their followers. The greater the number and devotion of their congregations, the greater the power they can channel into the world.
Deities are bound by one immutable law... they may not manifest directly upon the Many Worlds. To do so would threaten the very fabric of existence. So in order to exalt the unique virtues or horrors that give them power, they must channel their divinity through sentient beings that are uniquely attuned to receive and direct that power.
Not every priest of a True God can wield the power of the deity. The vast majority of clergy are devoted servants who lead and serve the congregations and communities of the faithful. They are knowledgeable, passionate, and dedicated, but cannot manifest the god’s power in the Many Worlds.
Only those deeply immersed in the religious doctrine of the faith, those who have dedicated their lives to understanding the scriptures and embodying the true nature of the deity are worthy vessels for the god’s power. Through meditation and prayer, these avatars of the faith prepare their spirit to align with the deity.
Their favor with their deity determines the which prayers of power they may enact, and acts of great faith and devotion can increase that favor, which deeds that run counter to canonical law will reduce their favor, diminishing the power they can manifest.
Unlike mages, divine avatars need not bother with the minutia of reweaving reality nor fear the backlash of Dissonance. They are channeling the deity’s will and as such, it is already in harmony with existence.
However, the mysteries of the faith rigidly defined, so priests do not have the ability to improvise the manifestation of the god’s magic. The prayers of power they enact are carefully defined by scripture and cannot be altered. They may, through sacrifice, discipline, rigorous study, seek to expand the doctrine of the faith to include additional prayers, but this is rare and requires an ecumenical decree to expand the doctrine.
In addition, priests may invoke the Divine Radiance of their deity. This is a raw channeling of power and very draining but is also completely out of the priest’s control. The god determines how the radiance will manifest.
For example, the Radiance of a god of War might immolate the target in flames, giving them a bonus to all weapon attacks for a battle. Later, the same Radiance might infuse a wooden shield to be strong as steel and light as a feather for the same duration. A powerful deity attuned to a fervent and disciplined priest avatar can enact profound transformations upon the Many Worlds.